Leaving Coffs a bloody hard decision

By DAVID MOASE

AT THE end of today, Mark Ferguson will go from rooster to feather duster.

After 15 years at Coffs Harbour City Council, seven as general manager, Mr Ferguson will say his last goodbye to the staff and councillors.

He is heading south to be general manager of Pittwater Council on Sydney's northern beaches, a move he says was 'a bloody hard decision'.

"Coffs Harbour has been good to me," Mr Ferguson said.

"I've been humbled by the number of people who have rung up and written and sent emails and that sort of thing, wanted to say goodbye and have a beer."

Mr Ferguson says he saw the move to Pittwater as his last chance to move to a bigger metropolitan council and test himself in the big city.

The fact Pittwater approached him to take on the job, he says, is a sign of the high opinion many people in local government have about Coffs Harbour.

"Coffs has got probably one of the best reputations in the state for environmental achievements, for our innovation," he said.

That reputation is something Mr Ferguson has worked to build during his time at the council and is a far cry from when he first came to the city, when the council and the com- munity were often deply divided.

"I'm proud of (the city's reputation) but I wouldn't take all the credit for it," he said.

"It's been a case of bringing into alignment a number of forces. We've got some very talented people in the community and in the staff and there's been a good collaboration between the community representatives and the staff resources to get some things done.

"I have enjoyed every minute of my work at Coffs Harbour council."

Mr Ferguson says there have been a number of significant achievements during his time (see story right) but is disappointed there hasn't been more progress at the harbour.

"We are called Coffs Harbour but we oversell the harbour in terms of the experience but underdeliver," he said.

"I would have liked to have seen that changed but it will get there."



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